Air cargo is still booming and the traditional lulls in seasonal flows seems to be a thing of the past in many areas. One of the negative results of the boom, much of which is related to the e-commerce expansion, is that airport cargo handling areas are becoming very congested. And in some cases it is almost impossible for handlers and airlines to rely on normal operations.
London Heathrow is no exception
Handling space for air cargo at London’s Heathrow Airport has for decades always been a problem for handling companies and airlines alike. The airport has expanded rapidly, but the famous “horseshoe“ cargo area never seemed to change. On the contrary, things have got worse there year by year even though all concerned, including the LHR authorities realise that cargo terminal facilities are hopelessly outdated.
The problems, as is with some airports on the continent, are well know. A narrow road approach system to cargo areas which are used also by normal traffic and resulting in long traffic jams. On top of this hardly any truck parking spaces or room for larger articulated trucks to maneuver. The result - delays at peak times and many missed flown shipments. This and many other problems in the cargo areas have been a matter of discussion and claims for years, with hardly any positive results.
Now, the air cargo community has got together to try and find solutions.
CCS-UK - the voice of the air cargo community
The Cargo Community User Group, CCS-UK is a trade body made up of representatives from the UK Air Cargo community. These include, airlines, ground handlers and forwarders. They also state that they work closely with customs authorities and British Telecom (BT) in order to push forward on issues such as IT enhancement and enhance processes.
CCS-UK User Group has now created a new module titled Advance Information System (AIS) which is aimed at transforming the air cargo delivery processes at Heathrow Airport. The new module is a result of almost two years of hard work and can maybe be seen as being somewhat familiar to what Frankfurt Airport has also successfully introduced to alleviate congestion and speed up shipment flows by using „Fair@Link,“ a Dakosy developed neutral communication system connecting all parties involved in cargo transports.
Heathrow‘s AIS module is designed to give freight agents and trucking companies pre-alerts on the delivery and pick-up of cargo. The system also is said to be able to include the submission of Electronic Consignment Security Declarations (e-CSD). This system, they say, would give handlers an early warning of cargo which is destined for them and better enable them to schedule manpower and allocate truck drivers slots for offloading or loading. The system has been in testing mode for a year now and is constantly being updated. CCS-UK states that in the meantime there are quite a few handlers, forwarders and truckers who have started to implement it.
Heathrow’s cargo areas have always been a nightmare to work in and hopefully this new system will go some way to alleviating congestion and speed up handling processes there. It‘s (all) about time!
John Mc Donagh